The pitching matchup pitted Chicago right-hander Donn Roach - who played 14 games with the Padres, including one start, in 2014 - against Michael Wacha (9-3, 2.85 ERA this season). Roach was making his season debut, having gone 7-1 with a 2.29 ERA in Triple-A so far in 2015.
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Last night: The Cards took game one of the series, winning 3-2 in extra innings. If you missed lil_scooter's recap, check it out here.
#STLCards vs. Chicago (6/27): Wong 2B Carpenter 3B Peralta SS Heyward RF Molina C Grichuk LF Scruggs 1B Bourjos CF Wacha RHP— #VoteSTL (@Cardinals) June 27, 2015
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The St. Louis Cardinals' offense put on a show on Saturday night. Given the way the game started, it was a good thing.
The home-team Redbirds overcame early frustration on both sides of the ball to easily handle the contest against the Chicago Cubs, taking the victory by the score of 8-1.
St. Louis stranded the bases loaded in the 1st, only to give up a run - on a bases-loaded single by the opposing starter, Donn Roach - in the top half of the 2nd. Roach's first Major League hit and RBI gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Thankfully for Michael Wacha and Company, Addison Russell ended a possible big inning for the visitors by grounding into a double play.
The momentum of the game took a sizeable swing toward the Redbirds in the top of the 4th. With Starlin Castro on third base and one out, right-fielder Mike Baxter hit a groundball to St. Louis first baseman Xavier Scruggs. Scruggs threw to catcher Yadier Molina, who ended up catching Castro in a rundown. Castro was eventually tagged out, and Baxter - trying to advance to 2nd base after the mayhem - was tagged out by Kolten Wong for the final out of the inning.
The adrenaline from the run-saving twin-killing proved to right the ship for the Cards. St. Louis chased Roach from the game after just 3.1 innings, and continued the offensive onslaught, knocking around reliever Travis Wood.
Wacha would throw 6 strong innings, allowing just the one run. The former Texas A&M Aggie allowed six hits and struck out five.
The Redbirds put together just one hit over the 7th and 8th innings against ex-Cardinal Edwin Jackson, although the damage was done long before.
Carlos Villanueva threw the final three innings for St. Louis, allowing just one hit while walking two and striking out two on 52 pitches. Villanueva's ERA now sits at 1.20.
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History: With the win, the Cards improved their season record to 50-24, their best record at this point in the season since the 105-win season of 2005. History was achieved with the win, as the 2015 team became the first in team history to win 50 games before July 1. Lil_scoot explored the situation in her 'Hunt and Peck' feature yesterday. Given what the team has had to endure - injuries to their No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, as well as their ace, losing the latter two for the rest of the season - I would say that is rather remarkable.
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Top 2: Roach single (first ML hit and RBI), scoring Castro - CHC 1, STL 0
Bot 4: Molina double, scoring Jason Heyward; Scruggs single, scoring Molina; Matt Carpenter two-run double, scoring Scruggs and Peter Bourjos - STL 4, CHC 1
Bot 5: Randal Grichuk double, scoring Heyward; Scruggs double, scoring Grichuk; Wong ground-rule-double, scoring Scruggs and Bourjos - STL 8, CHC 1
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On deck: The Cubs and Cardinals wrap up the series tomorrow night, with Jason Hammel (5-2, 2.65 ERA) taking on Carlos Martinez (8-3, 2.89). The game will be on ESPN, starting at 8:15 Eastern / 7:15 Central.
Hammel will be making his first start against the Redbirds in 2015; he started two games against St. Louis last year and went 0-1. The right-hander's starts lasted 6 and 5.1 innings, respectively, allowing 8 runs over the span.
In his last three starts of 2015, Hammel has pitched to a 2.16 ERA and struck out 16.
Martinez is making his third appearance against the team's main rival, and his second start against Chicago. Martinez' last start against the Cubs, on May 4, was not what the fireballer had in mind. The 23-year-old went 3.2 innings and gave up 7 runs on 9 hits, but the Cards won the game 10-9.